“I’ve never been busier in my life,” says Ian Somerhalder. Even though his hit series “The Vampire Diaries” is wrapping its run after eight seasons, he’s making a plan for his future as a producer, with a new deal with Warner Bros TV with his wife, Nikki Reed. And then there’s his passion project: his commitment to environmental causes, through his eponymous foundation.
You just announced a pod deal with Warner Bros. TV. What kind of shows do you want to make?
All kinds of shows — scripted, unscripted, drama, comedy, docuseries, digital, all of it. The reality of it is telling good stories. Really good stories. That’s really all we want to do. Fortunately I’ve been able to work with some of the most incredible talent in this business. It’s unbelievable what I’ve learned. I understand how to make things from the ground up. I’ve come out of this not only with a new wife and this life and this family and eight years under my belt, but I also have lifelong friendships and a vast amount of knowledge that I can now take into my life and my career. And that is invaluable. That changes your whole world. I’m excited to take the stuff that I’ve learned and use it as applied science. It’s exciting when you walk into a room or walk on a set and experience a problem that you possess the tools to find solutions effectively and economically.
You’re incredibly active on social media. What advantages do you see to it?
I have a very profound and distinct appreciation for social media. I also have a very profound and deep concern for social media. It is an amazing way to transfer information, to create engagement and social change. It has the ability to change the world, and it has. Look at Egypt and the Middle East. But then there’s the flip side of it. I think social media keeps us in a constant state of want, which I think is very, very dangerous. Because that yields unhappiness. It’s about time to harness social media and teach our young people that it doesn’t hold as much weight as we think it does. What Nikki and I are hoping to do with the studio is to really build great storytelling, great content but without bludgeoning people over the head. Find really great ways of displaying socially relevant, impactful messaging within that type of storytelling. It’s time for us to start counteracting what’s happening with mass media. And start allowing people to feel a little bit better about themselves. I’m really focused on creating this next generation to be the most innovative, compassionate and grateful group of people the world has ever seen.
You’re also a correspondent for the docuseries “Years of Living Dangerously.” Why is that so important to you?
Our greatest challenge of humanity is climate disruption. Whether you want to believe it or not, it’s happening. You’re going to feel it. I personally feel that being involved with “Years” has been the single most important part of my professional life at this point. One of the amazing reasons that the first season has been so successful and that I’m really grateful to David Nevins and Showtime is that they took a big risk. Social media was a gigantic component of that success. The people who follow me rallied and really got behind the show.
Will you be making series that address the climate issue?
Absolutely. That’s something that we have in the works right now. I’m ecstatic to explore it. My dream as a kid was to be working as a scientist or on a Nat Geo expedition. I got to do that. And I’ve never been the same as a result. I’m so thankful that Nat Geo has us now. This is very much where I want to put a ton of our focus. This is very much on the top of our slate list. There’s more to come.
“The Vampire Diaries” is ending after eight seasons. How hard will it be to say goodbye?
You want things to end on a good note. We really had an amazing run. It’s just time. All good things must come to an end. The real beauty of it is that it doesn’t actually come to an end. There’s iTunes and Google play and Amazon and Netflix and Hulu. We have these incredible outlets where media just lives on. New viewership comes into the fold. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
What can you reveal about the “Vampire Diaries” finale?
Three-part answer: No f–king clue. I have no clue. I’ve called Kevin [Williamson] and Julie [Plec, co-creators] five times last week to find out and understand what’s going on. They’re very tight-lipped about it. I don’t blame them.
What would you like to see in the finale?
Paul [Wesley] and I talk about this all the time. Damon’s 174 years old and in love with an 18-year-old. It’s the most unbelievable example of robbing the cradle, first of all. Secondly, these boys, they came into this town, they wreaked havoc, they ruined lives. Honestly, I think the best thing for Mystic Falls would be for these guys and all of these vampires and witches to just go away. Let Elena wake up and have these boys gone and never know any of this happened. A phenomenal, go humanity thing would be where these creatures don’t win. We would love to see the two boys go down to the Caribbean somewhere and sit on a beach drinking some 60-year-old Caribbean rum, and as the sun comes up, just toast each other, give each other a hug, and take off their rings and throw them into the sea and let them just poof — turn into ash. I’ve created so much death and so much violence on this show that I think it would be such an amazing win for humanity if Damon and Stefan just went bye-bye. Let’s hope it happens.
Will Nina Dobrev be back?
I don’t know. I have zero idea. As a producer, I do have a lot of information and then there’s a lot of information I don’t have. I want the audience to be happy, but I also am very pro human. I don’t think these guys should have the ability to wreak havoc, kill everybody, ruin the lives of so many and then get out with a happy ending. I think the happy ending is that we got to go on this amazing ride with these two guys. They’ve lived long enough.